As in many of his other works, Bradbury explores time in Dandelion Wine. The book begins on the first day of summer, 1928, and continues on chronologically until the last day of summer of the same year. This is calendar time, the day-by-day progression throughout the year. Bradbury underscores this progression through the scenes where the boys and Grandfather make dandelion wine, each bottle labeled for each day in the summer. As the number of bottles increases, the days of the summer dwindle. Calendars and clocks, however, only represent the kind of time that is measurable; these devices divide time up into ever smaller, equal divisions. Yet anyone who has ever thought about it knows that sometimes time passes more quickly or more slowly than at other times. Thus, while the calendar or the clock mark a linear, chronological progression, there is much that these devices do not reveal about time.
Bradbury introduces another notion of time through Colonel Freeleigh, a man who is able to travel freely through his memories, so much so that the children call him a Time Machine. When he tells the children his stories, he is able to transport them into a different kind of time, one that is cyclic, or circular. This is the time of stories and memory, moments that can be revisited again and again. Likewise, through the rituals of summer, those things the children do again and again, they are able to create a kind of sacred space that exists out of time.
Bradbury also uses clocks and calendars metaphorically in this novel to represent the time allotted to a person for a life. When Doug discovers he is alive, he suddenly realizes that he himself is a timepiece: “Twelve years old and only now! Now discovering this rare timepiece, this clock gold-bright and guaranteed to run three score and ten . . .” Thus, the passage of time through the summer in Dandelion Wine also serves to remind the reader that each human being has a metaphoric spring, and autumn in his or her life.
In Dandelion Wine, Doug experiences both kinds of time, chronological as well as ritual. In the tension between the two, Doug finds himself facing the most important questions of human existence.
(The entire section is 752 words.)